White clothing has always been associated with the future. The society of the future is often depicted in white tones and people of the future are depicted suspiciously resembling ancient Grees in white togas. White futuristic costumes, white long gowns down to the floor, white robes, and splendid white plastic armour – all these are attributes of almost every sci-fi movie, for example the Imperial Stormtroopers in Star Wars.
Many designers actively use the link of white colour and futurism. For example, in 1999, Alexander McQueen together with models released on the catwalk two robots who sprayed paint on a snow white dress. In 2006, the same designer placed on stage a hologram of Kate Moss who, at the time, because of her problems with the law, most designers refused to work with. A ghost in a white dress resembling the Ice Queen hung over the catwalk during the fashion show.
But in order to look into the future, it is important to look at the past.
Every person has something white in their wardrobe. Starting with something small like gloves or socks, and ending with a wedding dress. A white shirt for an important business meeting? There you go! A white blouse as part of a lady’s business suit? Of course! In short, white colour is specially popular nowadays. The same was true 100 years ago. And 1000 years ago. And 5000 years ago.
White is the very first colour developed by humans artificially. The very first fabrics that humans learned to develop – wool, linen, and cotton – were gray, but if they were left in direct sunlight, they would burn out to become white. This was how gray fabrics were turned white in ancient Egypt.
In ancient Greece, white was very popular. It was regarded as the colour of nobility and the sublime. Also, it was the most common colour – everyone citizen would have a white robe in their wardrobe. By contrast, in the orient, such as Japan, China, and Korea, white was regarded as the colour of mourning. It is remarkable that this tradition of wearing white as mourning has endured to our time.
On the while, people’s attitude towards white hasn’t changed remarkably over the centuries. It has always remained the most neutral colour of all. There has never been any monopoly on its use by virtue of trade secrets.
White became particularly popular in the 20th century. It happened in the same way as with black – thanks to cinematography! In their desire to resemble the famous movie characters, people were looking for clothing similar to that worn by them. And what choices did they have if the movies were black and white? Either black clothing or white clothing! Thanks to cinematography, white clothing lost its paramount association with wedding dresses. In this context, it is enough to remember the famous image of Marilyn Monroe.
Some time later, white was used in used in the production of expensive sports wear for different types of sport, for example for golf and yachting. From that point on, white started to symbolize luxury. White suits and big white luxury cars – all this literally screamed about the wealth of their owners.
White, like black, is universal in the sense of matching with other colours. It perfectly matches with red, blue, and even yellow. In order to create an elegant image today, it is necessary to wear something with any shade of pink, such as fuchsia or salmon pink. Apart from standard (spectral) colours, white goes perfectly with gold or scarlet.
White can be included in any set of clothing, for any occasion, and for any season. For an important business occasion, a white blouse can be worn in combination with a suit. A white raincoat can uplift the mood on a rainy gray autumn day. And, of course, a wedding is very difficult to envisage without the classic white bride’s dress. White perfectly suits any casual style and any sporting exercise. And a white hat will perfectly protect you on a summer’s day.
Author: Marina Sobe-Panek